Tourism Minister is a bit confused and she pleads with people, please remember Malay is the national language, and nobody can challenge that. She even goes to the extend, Malays have compromised many things for sake of unity and their patience had its limit. Another good soul Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr Nik Safiah Karim comments it is tantamount to eroding the country’s national identity. She also asked a pertinent question why must other languages be elevated to be on par with the National language.
Both these ladies have been hibernating.
Remember Borhan our KL mayor, he knows all about getting approval from the cabinet. But here again the Culture, Arts and Heritage had its own mind, even over-ruling the cabinet, He puts up road signs in Jawi to help Arab tourists. So, who is wrong. Please check the City Council files.
KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 (Bernama) — Unnecessary.
That has been the general reaction to the move by a group of Gerakan members to put up road signs in Chinese in Penang Monday.
While some view the move as an exercise in futility, other see it as an attempt to challenge the position of Malay as the national language.
The group put up the signs at the Beach Street as well as at Burmah Road, Macalister Road, Carnarvon Street, Chulia Street and Jalan C. Y. Choy.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the Federal Constitution had stated it clearly that Malay is the national language.
“All official signs, therefore, should be in Malay. This is part of the social contract agreed upon by our forefathers and I hope no one will try to challenge that,” Azalina told Bernama when contacted.
She reminded those involved that the Malays had already compromised many things for the sake of unity but their patience had its limit.
Azalina also regretted the use of the “Visit Malaysia” logo without permission.
“We will see what action we can take in connection with the misuse of the logo,” she said.
Malay language expert Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr Nik Safiah Karim said she could not agree with the action as it was tantamount to eroding the country’s national identity.
“A country must have its own identity and Malay is the national language. Why should we elevate other languages to be on par with the national language?” she asked.
Nik Safiah said even though the group claimed that the move was for the benefit of tourists, it should not be done at the expense of the national language.
“I don’t think road signs in Malay are difficult to read as they are written in Roman. Even if tourists have problems understanding them, their guides will be able to explain the meaning. They can also ask the locals,” she told Bernama.
She said those involved in putting up the road signs in Chinese should pause for a while and ponder which one was more important — safeguarding the country’s national identity or the other interests that they want to promote.
Federation of Peninsular Malay Students (GPMS) secretary-general Mohd Nordin Awang said those involved should be clear about the position of the Malay language.
“All the while, there have been no problem with road signs in Malay. Why now?” he said, adding that the move had no justification whatsoever as it was merely for political purposes.
“Are the road signs a pressing issue or is there other motives behind it?” he asked.
Mohd Nordin said throughout Malaysia’s 51 years of nationhood, there had been no problems or conflict arising from road signs.
He said the action could also hurt the feelings of the Malays and affect the harmonious relations among the people.
MCA Youth secretary-general who is also Deputy Education Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong said the road signs should not be made an issue.
In a multi-racial country, there was nothing wrong if other languages were used as road signs, he said. “I don’t think this is a deliberate attempt to offend the sensitivities of any group,” he said.
In Penang, local government, traffic management and environment executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow said the committee would send notice to Gerakan asking the party to remove the sign.
He said the state government had its own plan to put up multilingual road signs in certain places, particularly within the heritage site.
“We will apply to the local councils asking them to increase the number of road signs in languages other than Malay such as Mandarin, Tamil, English and Arabic for the benefit of tourists,” he told a news conference.
He said the federal government had approved an allocation to put up multilingual road signs in the island’s heritage area.
Balik Pulau Umno division chief Datuk Dr Hilmi Yahaya said the state Barisan Nasional had never discussed the move by Gerakan Youth.
He said such action should be stopped, lest it become a trend.
“Today it will be Gerakan. Tommorow, other parties may also put up their road signs.”
Tanjong Umno Youth chief Shaharrudin Hassan, meanwhile demanded that Malay should be the language for all road signs in the area.
“We are not satisfied with the action. We want the road signs to be in Malay,” he said.